Top 10 Newsnight Disasters

19 Feb 2015


Last week, Ed Balls was asked a very simple question. Name a businessman who supports Labour. The Shadow Chancellor could only respond to Newsnight host Emily Maitlis’ question by naming a man called ‘Bill’. ‘Bill Somebody’ to give him his full name.


Mocked by the Prime Minister and ridiculed by the media alike, Balls’ fate is hardly a new one. Here is our countdown of the top ten Newsnight disasters.


10.  Ann Coulter

“I’m a critic of Darwinism.  I think I can be a restaurant critic without having to start my own restaurant.  I’m describing Darwinism, and the only problem with it is it is an illogical, irrelevant tautological theory.  The evidence Darwin said would be there is not there and in fact a lot of evidence contradicts him.  Other than that it is a fine theory.”


If this conservative New York Times bestseller did not genuinely believe what she was saying is true, she could have been a lot higher on this list.  Nobody is suggesting that she does not have the right to oppose the theories of Darwin, but the only illogical things in this interview were her reasons for doing so.


9.  Russell Brand

No matter how many ‘big’ words Brand could throw at Paxman, it was the veteran presenter’s question that became the most memorable line of the interview.


“You don’t vote…how do you have any authority to talk about politics then?”


8.  Tony Blair

 At what point did the New Labour Prime Minister realise that this interview was not going to be favourable to him?


Our guess is when told party donors “own horny housewives, mega-boobs, posh wives, skinny and wriggly” before being asked: “I’m just curious to know how you reconcile taking money from a pornographer with your deeply held Christian values?”


7.  Silvio Berlusconi

 “Do you have a particular problem with Angela Merkel?  Is it true you called her an ‘unfuckable lard arse’?”


There’s no coming back from that.


6.  John Prescott

 Starting with a tit-for-tat “The only problem is him!” declaration, the UK’s former Deputy Prime Minister was at maximum anger, intensity and volume during an interview where he was supposed to be defending his former cabinet college Gordon Brown’s man management and accusations of bullying by the Scotsman.


Was it an ingenious way of showing that Brown was a pussy cat in comparison to him, or was Two Jags stuck in top gear?


5.  Clare Solomon

 After the famous student protests of 2010, the President of the University of London Union appeared on Newsnight to defend the actions of a small number of protestors who had criminally damaged Conservative Party HQ and thrown bins off the top of the building.


Ignoring Jeremy Paxman, refusing to answer difficult questions and missing the chance to grill Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Simon Hughes, Solomon’s aid to the cause was questionable.


4.  William Hague

 Make sure you pause the video at 2:07 to avoid witnessing another of our top ten car crashes.


Asked an astonishing 18 times whether businessman turned pollster Lord Ashcroft was a British resident for tax purposes, the “intellectually curious” William Hague failed to provide an answer. 


Six months later the Tory peer confirmed that he did not pay tax on his overseas earnings.



3.  Dapper Laughs 

 In the only non-Paxman car crash of our list, ‘comedian’ Daniel O’Reilly aka Vine hit Dapper Laughs was forced to apologise for his sexist act.  Accused by Emily Maitlis of inciting sexual violence, the former estate agent tried to turn the saga into his own sob story.


“I look at it now and I’m trying to hold back the emotion that is attached to what it has done to my life and what the media have done to my life in the last four days.”


Now that is 'proper moist'.


2.  Chloe Smith

 In an excruciating interview, the 30 year old is introduced to frontline politics.  After a series of budget U-turns in 2012, Smith has put on the show as a Treasury Minister to explain the decision.  Only it turned out that she really did not know much about it.   


Just over a year later, she quit the frontbench to concentrate on being a good constituency MP – with her ministerial career defined by these eight minutes.


1.  Michael Howard

 But did he threaten to overrule him?



It is safe to say that we have missed a few moments here and that there will be many more in the three months leading up to the General Election.  But with Paxman’s Newsnight departure, MPs will be sleeping a little easier.


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